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[TR] WA Pass - N Early Winter Spire - West Face 7/25/2007

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Trip: WA Pass - N Early Winter Spire - West Face


Date: 7/25/2007


Trip Report:

After my earlier excursion on the NW Corner I really had a craving for that fine looking line called the West Face. I have to say that this route didn't disappoint and delivered for me the finest crack climbing in the pass up on the upper pitches. For this route I hooked up with Kane from CascadeClimbers.


We headed out a little after 9am and started up the winding Blue Lake trail reaching the turn off from the main trail in about 1.5 miles with ~700 vertical feet being hiked. 30 more minutes and 1K more vertical feet brought us to the base of the route.


The first pitch is straight forward and is a shared start with the NW Corner. It can be stretched out to get one to the mini amphitheatre below pitch 2. P2 is a well protected short 5.8. P3 starts up some easy cracks until one reaches a small ledge and the flake. We didn't bring anything larger than a #3 Camalot so the flake had to be climbed unprotected. It was committing to lay back the thing knowing it would be tricky to step back out of it but all went well and the flakes above have slings to clip from a good stance. I scoped the traverse and saw the bolt, an old 1/4" time bomb. I thought this bolt had been replaced!?! So I got some gear in under the lip and a nut to the left of the traverse and started out. It was only as I was part way thru that I noticed the shiny new bolt on the upper lip. DUH! The traverse is airy and wonderful with great friction until I was able to blindly lay back around the corner. A nice reach to a high right foot around the corner allowed me to work a nice Camalot #1 below an old fixed pin. Then I moved up and left to the base of the thin crack.


Kane arrived at the belay and we arranged gear and got ready for my anticipated lead of the crux. I prepared the small gear and struck off on the good entry to the thin crack. Overall this section took small nuts very well and offered excellent finger jamming. Part way up is a small horizontal tipper edge that made for a great place to work gear in. My next goal was to get my foot up on that tipper edge so I laid back the crack and smeared hard. Another good stance here with my left foot on the tipper edge let me work a Metolious #1 Cam into the crack. I pushed on and up with the crack getting tighter until I could see a good flake edge. As I reached up for it my feet blew and I was off for some flight time. At this point I realized that I climbed too high and that after I placed the cam I should have traversed left to the second crack system. Back on and in a few moves I was in the left crack system and ready to build the next belay after that short crux pitch.


The next pitch is the best on the route. It starts with a few gaston opposition moves in a crack to a small overlap that takes a .75 Camalot well and then up into another finger crack. The upper potion starts as an intimidating looking thin crack and then with awesome finger jams it just keeps getting better. I wished that this pitch could have just gone on and on and it is the money pitch on the route! Eventually it peeters out and one has to traverse right to a larger crack and a belay if your partner mistakens his 50m rope for a 60m! ;) A longer rope would have had us complete the pitch to the top.



West Face Route, 6 Pitches 5.11a



Kane almost done with P2



Heading into the crux crack



View from belay at base of P6



The amazing upper crack pitch



Traversing over from the end of P6



Easy cracks that lead out to the low 5th and summit


Gear Notes:

Rack to 3" with extra .5,.75,1 Camalots


12 draws + two 4'


Approach Notes:

See Nelson's Select Cascades Guide


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I Love that route.. That last pitch is pure joy.. Although even with a 60 you still wish you had a few more feet left to take you all the way to walk-off. Although the rope drag from such a long pitch really sucks when belaying up the second. What a great route. Nice pics. I'm always having so much fun on that route that I forget to shoot any pictures.



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Nice TR, sounds like you had a splendid time. With a 60m rope you can link your pitches 2&3 and 4&5 for a couple of full value leads. Wouldn't that flake on 3 require a really huge cam? The idea of it is scarier than the climbing actually is. Thanks for the happy shiny pictures!

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with a 70 we linked pitches, ended up 4 pitches one being short. I just wish it could be longer!

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Even the bad pitches are good. :)

The layback takes an old #4.5 Camalot and it's below your feet anyway. Isn't some fixed pro near there? #0 TCU for the crux....

Edited by Telemack

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yea man, nice trip report! I am really sorry about the 50m...Btw, me and Randy climbed the NorthWest Corner the other day and I snagged my sling back off that block!

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